“Don’t over think it. I put off writing a book for a long time. I was not sure people would want to learn from me, after all they could learn from Richard Branson or Dr. Marshall Goldsmith — who am I? Then when I would sit down to write because I knew I was at least one step or more ahead of many who would be reading the book. I would undo what I wrote and constantly edit. After hours of typing I had half of a paragraph. So one day, I found this Dragon Naturally Speaking software that I bought years prior. I decided to install it and go through all the tutorials. I had made a basic outline already, so I just started spewing out my knowledge following the outline. It was all in me, I just needed to unleash it. I am super slow at typing and that was holding me back. I could write a blog post or an article but it has always been a very cumbersome process. Without editing and just letting it flow I could do thousands of words in a few hours that previously would have taken me weeks. So make an outline, then start typing “or talking” out your pent up knowledge with little or no editing, get it all out and then get a professional editor to fine tune everything and then edit again yourself to make sure your voice still shines through.”
I had the pleasure of interviewing Jess Tiffany C.E.O. of the Marketing and Networking University an online business education platform and sister company M.N.U. Digital offering everything from web design to social media management. Author of Growth Hack[in]g — Strategically grow your business connections from zero to 10k in 365 days.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you share a story about what brought you to this particular career path?
I have always been entrepreneurial, passionate about marketing and a huge sales guy. I have always been selling. As a little boy I was selling myself to the girls on the playground, and of course many lemonade stands. When I was 12 I talked the Pastors wife into letting him earn a commission selling her Avon products. Little church ladies couldn’t resist my cute smile and my simple plea to buy some products. I was always one of the top sales people in Boy Scouts or any other thing sold as a kid. Later I sold cars, excelled at cold telemarketing, sold long distance phone service and pagers as my own business for a while. I also have held several corporate jobs over the years while running my own businesses. So for over 20 years I have been selling books, nutritional products and other products online while I also typically kept a job as well. One job I really enjoyed was running many of the training courses across 3M campus. We would facilitate a course on polymeric nanofibers and then run across campus and run business acumen training. This job is what ultimately gave me a passion to combine education with my business and sales ventures. This is what lead to the Marketing and Networking University, which is very similar to what I was contracted to do on the 3M campus. Now, I facilitate an educational portal where we have various teachers teach skills they have acquired running their own companies. Oh, and I got a degree in marketing and business development somewhere in there.
As we ran online courses it became evident that many people did not feel comfortable executing on what they learned. So I started coaching some and doing the work for others. After a while of doing this we launched M.N.U. Digital to fill this need. We branded the business for Minneaoplis as it is easier to rank locally than national for a digital agency.
Can you share the most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career?
Not really a career event but more of a life event. I was with my family at a local zoo. All of the sudden there was a blood curdling scream. As I looked I saw a kid being pulled toward the fence by a cougar. In seconds I turned my daughters stroller away from the sight and was in a all out sprint jumped the railing into the cougar pit. Sprinted toward the cougar with the intent of kicking the cougars leg and breaking the child free. When I was less than a foot away the father of the son was able to wrestle the kid free. So I made a quick exit from the cage area because the threat to the kid was over and I did not want to meet the cougar or its other cougar friend that was also in the same enclosure. Thankfully, the kid just had a laceration and was fine.
Through this experience I found out I am the fight, not the flight person and if I am willing to do that for someone else’s kid, what would I be willing to do for my own.
I now use this life experience to put things in perspective in both my business and personal life.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Never accept a referral from someone you know is negative toward you or your product. It was not funny at the time but now I think it is. I was selling yield increasing agricultural products farm to farm or door to door. A young lady was rude to me and just not nice but then she said, I would go to the farm over to the left. They would really like what you are selling. I thanked her and was excited to go to the practically guaranteed sale. I go to the suggested house only to be welcomed by a dog that was bigger than me and I am not small. The dog jumped on me and basically tried tackling me multiple times as I ran to my car. I made a quick exit and realized it was a setup from the beginning.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
My most exciting project is my book called Growth Hack[in]g — Strategically grow your business connections from zero to 10k in 365 days. The book discusses why growing a quality network with quantity increases opportunities. Then it goes through building a powerful profile and various techniques in order to grow quality connections quickly. It utilizes growth hacking marketers mindset using minimal budget, creative thinking, data and a lot of trial and error.
Which people in history inspire you the most? Why?
I have always been inspired by Ronald Reagan. He was such an amazing speaker. His character seemed to be bigger than life and steadfast in his belief in God and Country. He spoke of a higher standard of moral character and of personal responsibility. It made me want to be a better person and to strive for ongoing improvement.
Henry Ford’s use of the assembly line, has always stood out to me. I loved the idea of simplifying processes; having a team that each has its own small part that contributes to the end goal. I find business to be much like this still today. Many times it is teams working on a small pieces like an SEO team, Sales team, email team etc. etc. However, that process of breaking things down into simpler components to be completed and then moved to the next phase and so on until the finished product is completed with fewer errors and with more efficiency.
Which literature do you draw inspiration from? Why?
I love books, mostly business books from leadership to marketing I enjoy them all. One of my favorite books, a classic is How to Win Friends and Influence Others. This book and the knowledge gained from it likely is one of the reasons I am able to succeed. Everything in business gets down to relationships. This book taught me basic things like to smile more, and give honest sincere praise whenever possible. It has really helped me be more aware of how my body language and my attitude determine my altitude in life.
Proverbs from the Bible has impacted my life profoundly. There is so much wisdom packed into bite sized chunks. The Proverbs helps with everything from moral character, how to have a good work ethic, advice on potential pitfalls and how to control money instead of money controlling you.
A newer book called Expert Secrets by Russell Brunson has given me new insight on ways to market myself and my brand to more people with less friction. I am looking forward to implement more advanced sales funnels that incorporate up sells, down sales and cross sales sooner into the process. If I can do in one transaction what used to take 4–5 emails to accomplish, we should see a faster uptake and higher profits.
How do you think your writing makes an impact in the world?
My hope is my writing will empower some people to strive a little harder, dig a little deeper and hopefully reach better results for their business or career. If I extrapolate on this idea over time, I hope the “little better” mindset is moved across more areas of the person’s life and the impacts are magnified and shared with others.
What advice would you give to someone considering becoming an author like you?
Don’t over think it. I put off writing a book for a long time. I was not sure people would want to learn from me, after all they could learn from Richard Branson or Dr. Marshall Goldsmith — who am I? Then when I would sit down to write because I knew I was at least one step or more ahead of many who would be reading the book. I would undo what I wrote and constantly edit. After hours of typing I had half of a paragraph. So one day, I found this Dragon Naturally Speaking software that I bought years prior. I decided to install it and go through all the tutorials. I had made a basic outline already, so I just started spewing out my knowledge following the outline. It was all in me, I just needed to unleash it. I am super slow at typing and that was holding me back. I could write a blog post or an article but it has always been a very cumbersome process. Without editing and just letting it flow I could do thousands of words in a few hours that previously would have taken me weeks. So make an outline, then start typing “or talking” out your pent up knowledge with little or no editing, get it all out and then get a professional editor to fine tune everything and then edit again yourself to make sure your voice still shines through.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Perhaps not so original but I enjoy volunteering with Feed My Starving Children which provides healthy meal packs to underdeveloped areas the world that may not have access to healthy food. I would love to inspire people to give more of their time and income to help feed more children around the globe.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
1) Get a mentor: Early in my business career I had a person that had a vested interest in my success and help me make profound steps forward. Unfortunately, circumstances caused me to exit this area of business at the time. For several years, I made little progress as I let myself get in my own way. When I finally stepped up and found a quality mentor and paid them for the knowledge my business finally took off. The money invested that I did not have kept me focused on moving forward and the knowledge from my mentor made all the difference to get me to the next level. So get some skin in the game sooner and find a mentor that has done what you desire to get done. Plug in, work hard and get that ROI as soon as possible. Otherwise, you burn through all your money and resources and likely are only spinning your wheels.
2) The public library can be a powerful asset. Use the tools available, my public library has tons and tons of great business books and audiobooks. In addition now they even have library apps that allow you to download all kinds of new business books that are not stocked in the physical library. They also have business books, information on building a business plan, free courses and reference librarians who are even willing to compile industry information for you. I wish I would have tapped into their resources much sooner. When I was updating a S.W.O.T. for the Marketing and Networking University with the libraries help I was able to find profound industry insights that helped me have a more accurate look into my industry.
3) You can’t do all the work. Hire help or partner with other people with different skill sets. Building my company I would continually find myself working more and more hours and still feeling overwhelmed. By starting to outsource single projects to freelancer that usually were better at the task then I was, I could then focus on more income producing activities and increase my income. In addition I found other individuals and companies that specialized in various fields that cover a piece of my business services with a profit share type model. They get more work and I can handle more customers without giving more time.
4) Take care of your health and exercise. This is one that I have to admit they did say to me, but I did not do it. I felt I just needed to work harder, and harder. Now I have found myself out of hours, overweight and lacking the energy I used to have. I am feeling the aches and pains of being unhealthy and it has not made succeeding easier. So, as things are moving forward rapidly, I need to focus on regaining some of that energy and becoming a more health conscience individual. The question is what could I have accomplished with lets say 20% more energy every day?
5) Niche yourself then expand. Many times throughout my business career I tried to do anything and everything for anybody. This has backfired on me more that I would like to admit. The same thing when it came to social media. I am on most every platform with variable success branding myself and my business education courses etc. When I niched down and became extreme with LinkedIn, targeting my ideal clients, mentors, dream companies etc. is when my world changed. My mentors have coached me to dominate in one area and then go omnichannel. Now it is good to be seen on all the channels or have a presence, but you need to find the one or two you really excel at and then put the hammer down and then scale. This has transformed my business and has built a long term funnel that should last for years.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this, especially if we tag them 🙂
Wow this is a tough one. Perhaps my basketball hero growing up Magic Johnson would be one of my top choices. I would like to learn about his amazing talent, work ethic, the smile, the optimism and the things that make Magic Johnson who he is. I would want to learn more about the obstacles he faced with all the business ventures he has succesfully worked with. It would be great to hear about the ideas or business ventures that did not pan out as well. Plus, I would want to get his autograph, since I am having a meal with him.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Thank you so much for this. This was very inspiring!
If you would like to see the entire “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me” Series In Huffpost, Authority Magazine, ThriveGlobal, and Buzzfeed, click HERE.
Originally published at medium.com